Locally-processed COVID-19 vaccine gets emergency use authorization in Indonesia

Photo: Indonesian Health Ministry
Photo: Indonesian Health Ministry

The Food and Drugs Monitoring Agency (BPOM) has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for a COVID-19 vaccine processed in Indonesia, as the country gears up to enter the second phase of its mass vaccination program.

State-owned pharmaceutical firm Bio Farma has been processing the bulk form of the CoronaVac vaccine, which was distributed by Sinovac, in addition to receiving completed doses from the Chinese pharmaceutical firm. Bio Farma processed some 13 million doses from Jan. 14 to Feb. 11, and has been processing another batch of 11 million doses from Feb. 13 with an expected completion date of March 20.

Bio Farma’s final product, which was named simply “COVID-19 vaccine EUA 2102907543A1,” has been declared to be identical in content to CoronaVac and is therefore safe for use in Indonesia’s mass vaccination program.

“The COVID-19 vaccine produced by Bio Farma has been approved for an EUA from BPOM Indonesia,” BPOM Head Penny Lukito said during a press conference today.

Bio Farma previously said it was scheduled to receive 140 million bulk doses from Sinovac in several shipments by November 2021, though the company is confident that the process can be expedited by four months.

Before Bio Farma’s vaccine, CoronaVac was the first and only COVID-19 vaccine available in Indonesia when the country launched its mass vaccination program in mid-January.

CoronaVac has been administered to health workers, who are the first priority recipients in the program. The second phase of the program is set to begin tomorrow, in which some 17.8 million people in the public service sector will be given their shots over the coming months before vaccines are made available to the general public.

As of Feb. 15, Indonesia has administered the first dose of the CoronaVac vaccine to 1,096,095 people, 482,625 of whom have received their second of the required two doses of the vaccine.

Indonesia aims to vaccinate some 180 million people to reach herd immunity against COVID-19 by early 2022. At the current vaccination rate, Bloomberg has projected that it would take Indonesia at least 10 years to achieve the feat, though the Health Ministry is adamant that the rate will soon pick up.

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